Why does a religion claiming to be the only group to have truth revealed to them by Jehovah require ongoing changes in doctrine? Does truth really change? A constant changes in doctrine and failed predictions are a clear indication that Jehovah does not direct the Watchtower Society. A person outside of the organization can see this as true, yet for a Jehovah's Witness it barely raises a grimace. How can this be?
Because changes and failures are immediately dismissed in the mind of a Jehovah's Witness by the thought stopping concept:
"The Bible tells us the light would get brighter".
The main justification from the Watchtower for changed doctrine is Proverbs 4:18:
"But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established." To interpret "light" as referring to Watchtower "doctrinal" understanding is simply justification for prior error.
The context of Proverbs chapter 4 is a comparison of behaviour between good and bad people, not the revealing of doctrinal truth through an organization. The surrounding verses say, "the wicked …do not sleep unless they do badness. … The way of the wicked ones is like the gloom; they have not known at what they keep stumbling… listen to the discipline of a father … keep my commandments … safeguard your heart." For thousands of years people have understood this scripture to be discussing behaviour. This scripture has nothing to do with doctrinal change. NOTHING!
Also, the concept of light becoming brighter implies that previous doctrine was correct, but incomplete. The Watchtower Society has promoted many significant doctrines that were later discarded as incorrect. Others have changed back and forth, even reverting to their original position, in each case contradicting a former truth.
An other line of reasoning by the Watchtower Society to justify their errors is to make a comparison to the Apostles and the mistakes that they made.
"Like the apostles of Jesus Christ, they have at times had some wrong expectations." Reasoning from the Scriptures p.136
This addresses an issue quite different to the one at hand. No one questions that individual Jehovah's Witnesses or even individual members of the Governing Body have to have perfect understanding. The issue is whether the Governing Body operates under guidance of Holy Spirit as a collective group, after prayer.
Does Jehovah direct what appears in the Watchtower journals? Rather than suggesting that Apostles made mistakes ask "What percentage of the Apostles writings in the Bible are wrong?" Zero percent. "What percentage of Watchtower statements has been wrong?" A lot of them. The difference being, the Apostles were directed by God, the Governing Body is not.
Another justification has been used several times after Watchtower prophecies went unfulfilled. The Watch Tower 1916 February 1 said about the incorrect understanding of 1914:
"We inferred from this that the Church's 'change' would take place on or before that date. But God did not tell us that it would be so. He permitted us to draw that inference; and we believe that it has proven to be a necessary test upon God's dear saints everywhere." What sort of group would accuse God of allowing them to promote falsehood as a test of his followers? If false teachings are a test from God, how do we differentiate between one Church and the other?
Additional Watchtower justification for incorrect interpretations is to attribute them to eagerness. They say that people that criticise this righteous eagerness are negatively trying to divert people from the importance of the times.
"It is easy for the established churches of Christendom and other people to criticize Jehovah's Witnesses because their publications have, at times, stated that certain things could take place on certain dates. …Have they not, rather, encouraged spiritual sluggishness by considering expectation of "the end" to be "meaningless" or "an insignificant myth"? Have apostates … promoted Christian alertness? Have they not, rather, induced spiritual sleepiness?" Watchtower 1984 December 1 p.18 "Jehovah's Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus' second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect." Awake! 1993 March 22 p.4
In application to itself the Watchtower insinuates that alertness is more important to truthfulness. In application to other religions sincerity is not enough, teaching untruths makes their followers unacceptable to God.
To be eager does not justify being totally wrong. Many religions are eager, without relying on false predictions to motivate their members. Making mistakes in God's name has not promoted long term eagerness; it has resulted in followers losing their faith in the Organization.
"However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: "How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?" when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it."
Watchtower changes include numerous false dates, significant doctrine and the promotion of pagan symbols and teachings. Rules on shunning, medical advice and education have been adversely life changing, even life threatening.
Falsehood does not originate from Jehovah. Doctrinal meandering cannot be justified as new light; rather it is proof that God does not direct the Watchtower Society.